RICHMOND, Va. (WRIC) — A new push to stop drunk drivers from getting behind the wheel could happen soon. The National Transportation Safety Board is calling for alcohol impairment detection systems to be installed in all new cars in the next three years.
This push comes after an investigation into a drunk driving crash that killed nine people, including seven children, in California last year. This tragic crash has led the National Transportation Safety Board to push the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration to implement alcohol impairment detection devices into new cars in the next few years.
“Technology could’ve prevented this heartbreaking crash — just as it can prevent the tens of thousands of fatalities from impaired-driving and speeding-related crashes we see in the U.S. annually,” National Transportation Safety Board Chair Jennifer Homendy said. “We need to implement the technologies we have right here, right now to save lives.”
Two forms of alcohol impairment detection systems have been suggested by the National Transportation Safety Board. One is a breath-based system. Instead of a traditional breathalyzer that might be given at a traffic stop, this system measures the driver’s regular breathing as they drive, according to Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety. The other is a touch-based system, which uses infrared light to shines under a driver’s skin and tests for alcohol levels in their blood. Driver Alcohol Detection System for Safety states that this would be installed in the steering wheel or start button of a car.
This recommendation from the National Transportation Safety Board could only go into effect if the National Highway Safety Administration finalizes this decision.
“The only acceptable number of impaired driving crashes is zero,” The National Highway Safety Administration said in a statement. “The agency has initiated work to meet the Bipartisan Infrastructure Law’s requirement for rulemaking concerning advanced impaired driving technology in vehicles.”
Here in Virginia, one in six people are expected to be involved in a drunk driving crash in their lifetime, according to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.
Mother Staci Barksdale lost her 23-year-old daughter Jordan Barksdale in a drunk driving crash in Chesterfield County in January of last year. Jordan Barksdale was hit head-on by 23-year-old Kaelyn Stine, who had drinking that day. Officers told 8News that Stine was using her phone while driving. Stine was charged with with DUI and involuntary manslaughter.
Since then, Barksdale continues to mourn the loss of her only daughter while urging others to use their judgement before getting behind the wheel. She is far from the only mother dealing with similar loss. Mothers Against Drunk Driving also recently supported the proposed mandate.
“It is frustrating for us to see the crisis on our roads. Deaths are at historic levels due to impaired driving, speeding and not using seatbelts when we know technology exists to stop this,” Mothers Against Drunk Driving said in a statement. “Mothers Against Drunk Driving is grateful that the National Transportation Safety Board has thrown its weight behind the technology mandate and resoundingly supports the choice. It is one step closer to zero deaths due to drunk or impaired driving.”